Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting kicked off Friday and, as luck would have it, one of the 27,000 (tiny) fractional owners of the company is a DealBreaker reader. Curtis Walker has been liveblogging the jamboree, which, in year’s past, has included Warren Buffett losing to an 11 year old at ping pong, and teaching a tantric sex class. So don’t be assholes—he’s one of you!
Rather than leaving any space unused at the Omaha Qwest Center, Berkshire takes over the convention hall for many of it's subsidiary companies to exhibit their wares, sell discounted goods and hold meet 'n greets with the public. Geico shows up with an army of insurance agents ready to do quotes and write plans on the spot. Fruit of the Loom lets it all hang out with a full crew of mascots and discount underpants. Kirby shows off their pricey, but shiny, Dyson eaters and Dairy Queen's got frozen treats.
The best part, however, is the bookstore, where each year a selection of handpicked books, DVDs and CDs are up for grabs at a discounted price. Old Charlie's Almanac, introduced in 2004 has managed to sell around 50,000 copies before this weekend without any marketing or any book store availability. I'll be honest with you here, I own the book, but I haven't ever read it. One guy who did read it asked Charlie what to do about his inability to understand it. Charlie replied "start by giving it to someone more intelligent."
I didn't spend more than an hour on the floor, but I did manage to get a Polaroid with the Fruit of the Loom guys and another with Geico bike builder, Big Rick Hoffman. I felt this was especially important with the recent demise of Polaroid film. I couldn't resist getting a few books too: "A Weekend with Warren Buffet and other shareholder meetings" by Randy Cepuh, "Seeking Wisdom, From Darwin To Munger" by Peter Bevelin and "Foods You Will Enjoy - The Story of Buffett's Store" by Bill Buffett. Two of these authors were on hand for signings, but that had no impact on my willingness to purchase the books. The first intrigues me, because this guy managed to pull a book out of his various shareholder experiences, while I, so far, have managed to pull a measly 5 posts out of the weekend. The second book interests me as a philosophical text on the collection of famous quotes, thoughts, missives and contextual interpretations of them all by the author. Finally, the final book had a lot of pictures in it, and I will probably be sick of reading soon, so I thought it'd be a nice break.
After the meeting and a brief nap, we relocated to the parking lot of the Nebraska Furniture Mart where my mom picked up a new bed with her shareholder discount. I fondled a few iPods and a deeply discounted
Plasma TV that remained a bit out of my price range. Overall, it was a great weekend, and I plan on cheaping it up again in Omaha next Spring.
-- Curtis Walker is a writer based in Las Vegas, NV.